St Peter don't you call me 'cos I can't go, I owe my body to Carwyn and co!

Whilst I'm being slagged off for opposing the Cardiff Bay consensus I may as well add that I agree entirely with the doubts raised by Archbishop Barry Morgan regarding a presumed consent for organ donation:
There is, in presumed consent, a subtle or perhaps not so subtle change of emphasis in the relationship between the individual and the state.

That is, that unless we have opted out, our organs belong to the state and the state has the right to do with them as it wills.

The implication, by default, is that the state can decide on our behalf. I think that compromises individual rights and freedoms and poses the moral question as to whether the state can make such decisions.

Is this a legitimate power, in other words, for any state? True, the state will argue such power will only be taken after consultation with relatives but there is a presumption in favour of the state and almost the belief that our bodies are state assets and therefore at the State’s disposal.

I also agree with Glyn Davies MP's very pertinent point: at present the state has an interest in encouraging people to think about this matter. Under 'presumed consent' the state's interest will be for there to be no publicity and no knowledge of the system.

At the moment there are public service broadcasts encouraging us to opt in to the system. Under presumed consent will there be as many public service broadcasts informing us of our right to opt out? I doubt it!

In the 1950's there use to be a leftist country and western mining song with the words

St Peter don't you call me 'cos I can't go
I owe my soul to the Company Sto'

Perhaps the wording should be changed in Wales to

St Peter don't you call me 'cos I can't go
I owe my body to Carwyn and co!

Those wishing to register their consent to organ donation can do so voluntarily (whilst they still own their own bodies) by clicking here


The Bag Rip Off Starts Next Sunday

As of next Sunday every plastic bag or paper bag used by shoppers in Wales to take their goods home will carry a 5p surcharge. I am surprised that all of the major retail chains have agreed to acquiesce. Under European law minimum pricing is illegal and this charge on bags is a clear case of illegal minimum pricing.

Because the Welsh Assembly Government is unable to raise taxes the proceeds from the 5p charge for each bag used in the larger retailers is going to be given to charity. Some supermarkets have named the charities that are going to benefit. Tesco will give to the RSPB, Morrison's to Save the Children, Boots to MacMillan Nurses. Others just note that the money raised will support unspecified charities; Asda will donate to local good causes and the Co-Op to environmental projects.

It would be interesting to know if the money given to the likes of the RSPB, environmental projects and MacMillan Nurses will be for the benefit of those causes' work in Wales alone; or will my bag money be subsidising their work in more affluent parts of the UK?

Will the plastic bags charge help or hinder charities?

When the nice lady from the local church comes round with her Save the Children envelope every year I am quite happy to give a couple of bob to the cause. But if I feel that I have been ripped off by Save the Children every time I shop in Morrisons – she might be sent away with a flea in her ear the next time she comes-a-knocking.

Many local charities raise money at Christmas and other holiday periods by offering to pack customers bags for them in exchange for a small donation; it's a major income source for many youth club, Scouts, Urdd etc groups. I will not be willing to be forced to give money to one charity for the bags and then volunteer to give to another for the packing. This bag charge could be the death knell for many local youth groups.

Isn't the point of charitable giving that it is voluntary? There are some registered charities who's objectives and activities I totally oppose. At the moment I can choose not to support them if I so wish. From next Sunday, if my local supermarket offers its support to one of those charities, I will be obliged under the force of law to donate a sum of money to them, against my wishes, in order to take my shopping home in a biodegradable plastic or paper bag! I suspect that there might be a human rights issue there!

Q Anybody know a no-win-no-fee HR lawyer who might take the issue on?

A Don't be silly Alwyn! The leftists who support Human Rights are the same people who support this enforced giving to anti-Welsh charities like the ROYAL Society for the Protection of Birds and the English National Trust (AKA The Save Snowdon from the Welsh Society)!

This is a Nationalist issue which Plaid should oppose on Nationalist grounds, but which Plaid stupidly supports in order to prove its British Socialist and British Environmental credentials!


Welsh Fiscal and Constitutional Commission #2

At the end of my last post I asked the questions:

Should Plaid join the Commission, in spite of the Westminster centred politicians? Or ignore it as an insult to Wales?

I think that I know where I stand on this question, but it would be interesting to hear other's views before declaring!
Thanks to those who responded. The two who came closest to my thinking were:

Better Wales who said... I really don't think anyone cares, least of all the people of Wales.


Anonymous 16:52 who said... why bother. It'll be like the Richard Report. Lots of energy wasted for Labour to do nothing in case they win in London in 2015.

There is a very special shelf in the National Library of Wales, covered in dust and cobwebs where the ignored reports of Welsh Commissions are stored, Kilbrandon, Richards, Holtham etc etc! Every so often a staff member has to go down into this dusty corner to place another Commission report onto that shelf – s/he is probably the only public servant in Wales who has no fear of redundancy – his or her job is a job for life!

Is there any point in Plaid taking part in this Commission? Probably not; but there is probably not much point, other than window dressing, in the other parties taking part either!

Should Plaid refuse to be part of the commission because of the supposed exclusion clause? – Absolutely not!

The clause is there as an elephant trap, that silly people think might catch Plaid off balance. But it is the worst trap that anybody has ever constructed.

Despite claims from True Wales that last May's referendum campaign had something to do with independence it was actually about Wales' continuing constitutional status within the UK, Plaid played a leading role in that campaign – so why should the party call foul on a Commission that wants to look at an extension of devolution that wishes to continue to secure the position of Wales within the UK? That, after all, is the whole point of devolution isn't it?

Plaid supports "gradualism" the hope that devolution will expand into Independence, as happened in Canada and Australia. Until the final act of the gradualist approach Devo-Max +, occurs then any step on that road will be a step that aims to continue to secure the position of Wales within the UK – surely! So whoever thought that the UK clause would make Plaid spit its dummy out, doesn't know much about Plaid!


Welsh Fiscal and Constitutional Commission #1

On the IWA's blog Click on Wales, John Osmond has some interesting comments about the progress of the soon to be formed Welsh Fiscal and Constitutional Commission dubbed ap Calman by some. At the end of his article John makes a rather disturbing comment:
Plaid Cymru’s nominee is likely to be its economics adviser Eurfyl ap Gwilym who is currently also heading its Commission looking at the party’s organisation and policy in the wake of its poor election results in May.

However, a question mark is hanging over Plaid Cymru’s involvement. This is because the Cabinet Office have suggested amending the Commission’s terms of reference agreed last July so that, in addition to examining the “current constitutional settlement in the light of experience and recommend changes”, it would have the words added: “and continue to secure the position of Wales within the UK”. According to leading figures in the party, if such an addition finds its way into the terms of reference that eventually emerge, the motivation would be to ensure that Plaid Cymru does not participate in the Commission.
The original Calman commission was set up by the unionist parties in Scotland as a response to Alex Salmond's National Conversation on the constitution of Scotland; the theory being that the Nats could have a conversation amongst themselves about Independence, the other parties would have a commission talking about Scotland's constitutional future within the UK.

It appears that some wise soul has decided that the Welsh Fiscal and Constitutional Commission should be held along similar lines. I'm not sure why though, because it shows a lack of appreciation of how the Welsh experience of devolution has differed to the Scottish one.

In Scotland the Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem's MPs shared visceral hatred of the Nationalists was transferred into the Scottish Parliament and has helped the SNP by creating a narrative where only one party stands up for Scotland in the Scottish Parliament elections. Both Rhodri Morgan's clear red water and Nick Bourn's clear blue water have created (at least the illusion of) Labour and Conservative parties that patriotic Welsh voters can support on a Welsh electoral stage. The clear coloured waters have enabled all of the big four parties to create a fairly consensual Welsh attitude to the evolution of devolution, despite doubts expressed by Westminster colleagues such as Peter Hain and Stephen Crabb.

This has been a problem for Plaid, because of the clear coloured waters; the London Parties jibe doesn't have the same resonance in Wales as it has in Scotland.

Almost everybody in Wales knows that Plaid Cymru members go to bed at night and dream about constitutional matters! The idea of a Constitutional Commission from which Plaid is artificially excluded will be seen as a farce by most Welsh people. From a purely electoral point of view, excluding Plaid from the commission will be manna for Plaid – without Plaid's input the Commission will be a London body dictating how Wales should be run! Is this how those setting up the Commission wish to see it perceived?

Should Plaid join the Commission, in spite of the Westminster centred politicians? Or ignore it as an insult to Wales?
I think that I know where I stand on this question, but it would be interesting to hear other's views before declaring!


And another thing that peeves me about Glan Conwy Council!

According to the last published minutes of the Council those in attendance were:

Cllr.Mrs.S.Lesiter-Burgess, Cllr.J.Spicer, Cllr.Mrs.C.Evans, Cllr.Mrs.A.Parry, Cllr.Mrs.P.Rogers, Cllr.T.S.Buckley, Cllr.O.Evans-Jones, Cllr.C.P.Barton, Cllr.D.J.Rees, Cllr.Mrs.S.Edmondson.

Why is Cllr Dai Rees described as Cllr, but Cllr Pam Rogers described as Cllr Mrs?

Isn't noting a female councillor's gender and marital status rather Jurassic?

Doesn't this council need kicking into the 21st century?


Congratulations ARTD!

Andrew RT Davies has a new job, he has my hearty congratulations, but I'm not sure that he has the support of the voters of Wales! Last time I looked, Carwyn Jones was, unfortunately, the Leader of the Welsh Assembly!

I'm sure that RT FaRTy, would make a brilliant Assembly Leader, if elected! But before being described as Leader of the Welsh Assembly – shouldn't he overcome the teeny, weeny, bitty hurdle of being elected to the post?

Hat Tip to Toque – and I agree with his sentiment that the Tories, of all parties, appear to have neglected to include a representative of one (rather big) part of the UK in their An United Kingdom debate!


Duw! It's hard.

RIP: Phillip Hill, Charles Breslin, David Powell, and Garry Jenkins; names added to a list that is already too long.

No democracy in co-option!

Putting apart sour grapes (and my grapes are very sour) elections are the way in which we should choose our representatives. There is something wrong in the way that community councillors are co-opted under the current system!

The rules are that ten people have to ask for a community council by-election; if that doesn't happen then the council co-opts.

In my last experience three candidates wanted to be considered as community councillor - but there was no election.

In my opinion three candidates should automatically trigger an election – three people after the same elected job – put it to the voters!

Surely the very fact that more than one person wants an elected position should automatically trigger an election makes sense in a democracy!

The only reason for co-option should be if nobody had put their name forward for election!

And now for some more sour grapes - Drew wouldn't have stood a chance against me in an open election, so he wouldn't have taken the risk of standing! I would have won unoposed!

So much for democracy!


Glan Conwy Community Council

The council co-opted a vacancy today to a person who lives in Eglwysbach, rather than a resident of our village!

I am very annoyed. Only two people have asked the voters of Glan Conwy to support their membership of the community council in the past 30 years! Me and Dan.

Dan won fair and square in the August poll, but I had more votes than any other member of the community council has ever gained! It is a travesty that the support that I gained in an open election should be overridden by internal favouritism.

I will stand for election again next May, on my record of community service, which I hope the people of Glan Conwy will respect! I can guarantee that I will beat some of the nodding donkies who are, with all respect, an embarrassment to Glan Conwy Council!

Dafydd Elis Thomas - a National Hero!

Dafydd Elis Thomas is one of my mega heroes. I have known Dafydd since I was a 14 year old canvasser for the old Liberal Party in the February 1974 Westminster election.

After his election I use to attend every surgery DET held in Dolgellau as a Pain in the Arse Complainant barracking for the Liberal cause, but he never refused to see me!

After his re election in October 1974 Dafydd set me a challenge: Because I could oppose him for his seat in 1980, when I would have been old enough to stand, I had to be able to debate with him in Welsh.

Being a first language English speaker, if it wasn't for Dafydd El's challenge, I wouldn't be a fluent and confident Welsh speaker today!

Before the 2007 election, when the SNP became the government of Scotland, any stranger to UK devolved politics comparing Scotland and Wales, would have assumed that Wales had more independence than Scotland, despite the fact that Scotland has many more powers than Wales had, this wasn't because of Rhodri's Clear Red Water, but because Dafydd El had made himself President of Wales.

Dafydd El crowning himself as President of Wales in 1997 was as significant an event in Welsh history as Owain Glyndwr crowning himself as Prince of Wales in 1404!

I wouldn't support Dafydd's current bid for the leadership of the party, he's done his bit brilliantly and it's time for him to move on. Having said that, there is no doubt that Dafydd Elis Thomas is a national treasure and a national hero! I find the hate comments made by too many nationalist against Dafydd, very unsavoury, because if I had contributed a quarter as much as Dafydd has contributed to the National cause I would be a very, very, proud Nationalist!


Why should Wales be DEPENDENT?

I am grateful to Stuart for drawing my attention to yesterday's Radio Wales Phone-in with Jason Mohammad. The first half of the programme delt with the question Should Wales become independent?

Stuart said about the programme I was struck by the fact that the debate wasn't hijacked by the usual suspects and that most people giving their views were at least open to discussing the subject. And I must say that I agree. It was a breath of fresh air to hear a programme about the issue of Welsh self determination where most of the contributors for both sides made sensible arguments.

The Scottish contributor a Dr Ray Donnelly, who was described as an expert on Scottish independence was the only contributor who took the debate into the realms of stupidity both by trying to flirt with Helen Mary on air and by making nonsensical comments such as "the Scots will have to eat porridge with whisky for breakfast if Scotland becomes independent". I may not agree with it, but the retention of the UK is a legitimate political position to hold – surely its proponents deserve better exponents of their cause than this!

The contribution that stood out for me was one that came from Catrin in Aberdare How about turning the question around, Jase, Should Wales be dependent I'm at a loss to see why anyone would say that Wales has done well out of being dependent on the UK". Quite right Catrin!

Perhaps those of us who support the national cause should stop trying to justify Independence and start asking the others why they want Wales to remain Dependent?


South Africa 17 - Wales 16

Any mediocre team can beat an opposing 15.

A good team must be able to beat the opposing fifteen, a bad referee, the wind, the rain and Lady Luck!

Wales failed and was less than mediocre. There are no excuses!


Sleepwalking into complacency about OUR future!

One of the opposition arguments made, not so much against the SNP, but against the people of Scotland is that they may sleepwalk into independence!

The argument is that the people of Scotland are so star struck by Alex Salmond, that they might vote YES in a referendum because of what they feel in their bellies, rather than what they know in their heads; Mr Salmond's charisma might mesmerise them into voting for independence against their better judgement!

Or, to put it in other words, the people of Scotland may support independence in a referendum because they are too stupid to know better! A good unionist vote winning strategy!!!!

At the moment the Unionist supporters seem to be banking on the fact that the vote will go their way. They might be right, they might be wrong, who knows until the votes are counted?

Supposing that Scotland votes YES and becomes independent, where does that leave Wales, where does it leave England?

The term used in the Scottish blogosphere is rUK (remainder United Kingdom), which is fair enough from a Scottish prospective – but where does it leave those of us who continue to live in the remainder?

I have heard of no plans from the Conservatives, the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats nor even Plaid and MK about what happens next IF Scotland votes for Independence.

Which raises the question Who are the Sleepwalkers?. What are the people of England, Wales, Cornwall and the north of Ireland going to do, going to be, if Scotland becomes independent?

Surely all parties need to plan for the inevitability of Scottish Independence and its ramifications for the rest of us! Sleepwalking into post Scottish Independence must not be an option!



Apologies to those who have been trying to read this blog today but have found it as "invite only". I have been having problems with a person intent on using the comments section to post spam links, so I switched the blog off whilst I deleted them, and forgot to switch it back on again. Sorry!

Glan Conwy- a place where many sleep but few live?

There have been a number of posts on the Welsh blogosphere in the past few days noting the latest Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation Statistics; as Jac 'o the North notes there aren't that many surprises in the statistics – the poor areas of Wales are still poor, although as Plaid Wrecsam notes, not all is woe, some areas have improved.

The statistics will, undoubtedly, help politicians and others to see that something should be done and attempt to offer something as an answer to those problems; good luck to them – I hope that something works.

It is easy to split large towns and cities into areas of social deprivation on a ward to ward basis; Caia Park is a poor area of Wrecsam, St Mellon's Estate is a poor area of Cardiff / Newport, the West End is a poor part of Rhyl etc. Something must be done for them!

But what about the poor in my village - Llansanffraid Glan Conwy?

Both wards in my little village are doing all right; both are in the upper percentile of Welsh communities, as are most rural wards. But this hides the fact that wards divide the rich and the poor in cities and large towns, but leylandii hedges divide them in rural communities!

A side effect of the ward based needs analysis used by the Assembly Government is that the needs of locals in my ward and similar wards thorough Wales are ignored, because the needs of the native poor of working age are masked by the wealth of incoming retirees – which makes us a statistically rich community but means that locals haven't got a hope in hell of getting any support from the Assembly or any other Government Agency to create work or leisure or community spirit in our village.

So my village becomes a place in which many sleep but few live!

Something should be done about this too!